What is Online Market Research?

Online Market Research is a research method in which the data collection process is carried out over the Internet.

Online Market Research can be either Qualitative or Quantitative.  Qualitative Online Tools include Video Ethnography and Market Research Online Communities (MROCs).  Quantitative Online Methods include mobile and app surveys.

This research can evaluate the performance of a product or service and may allow companies to glean insight into consumer purchasing behavior. With the rising use of the Internet, online research has become a popular tool among market research firms.

Online research can provide additional information about a buyer, such as her prior purchasing history. Online research projects can be carried out by a company itself or by a hired research firm.

Growth in Online Market Research

In recent years, there has been a substantial increase in the recorded number of household Internet users, making online shopping more popular.  As businesses have become more global and virtual, their target audience has expanded well beyond any specific geographical location.  A company can conduct an online survey in which it selects is respondents from all over the world in a less costly manner than it would with mail, telephone, or in-person interviews.

Online retail and transactions have become more popular in recent years. In countries like the U.S., where the internet is readily available to almost every household, online retail spending is expected to increase. As consumers increase their participation in online shopping, it may become more convenient for retailers to maintain a database of their consumers’ purchasing history.  Companies can effectively utilize this data throughout the course of their online research.

Advantages in Online Market Research

Conducting online research can be a complex procedure and may require considerable expertise on the part of researchers in obtaining accurate data.  It may be challenging to recruit participants in online research for several reasons.  Recipients may be reluctant to participate in online research because they may be afraid that the privacy and confidentiality of their personal information may be violated.  Since the identity of the researcher cannot be verified completely, people may find it difficult to trust such research methods.  Researchers often present participants with some monetary or non-monetary rewards for their participation.  Participants may be wary of monetary compensation promised online.

How to Conduct Online Market Research

There are several ways that may be effective for carrying out online research. Quantitative research can be carried out via online questionnaires and web-based experiments.  Qualitative research can be carried out via online in-depth interviews, online focus groups and participant observation, in which a researcher acts as a part of a community to observe behaviors.

Online questionnaires and online polls are some of the most popular online research tools. Online questionnaires may need to be carefully designed in terms of format and length.

What are Online Panels?

Another common practice for online surveys is the use of online panels. An online panel is a group of selected individuals that have agreed to participate in online research projects for a particular company at specific intervals over a period of time. These participants are selected through a screening process according to their demographics, lifestyles and habits, and are usually rewarded for their efforts by the research company regularly.

Online panels may allow companies to glean insight into creating long-term relationships with their customers.  These panels may also allow customers to give direct feedback about products and services without the potential reluctance that may occur in face-to-face interactions.  Online panels may also mitigate bias caused by peer pressure to agree on a certain viewpoint, a phenomena that may occur in face-to-face panels.

Benefits of Online Market Research

Online market research can be a beneficial tool for companies due to its reach and convenience. Online research tools can be used with relative ease and accuracy for both qualitative and quantitative research.

  • Cost advantages
  • Speed advantages
  • Data collection in real-time
  • Advanced analytics
  • Efficient global and multi-country survey management